Interview with Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux -abstracted from today's Cannes festival press statement.
- As a first impression, could we say that the greatfilmmakers are back in strength''
In Competition, yes, since there will be many experienced filmmakers at Cannes.If, last year, we seemed to concentrate more on new discoveries, thereturn to the Competition of some of the greatest filmmaker delights us to justthe same extent. The 'great filmmakers' never left the Croisette: WimWenders, David Cronenberg, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Michael Haneke, AtomEgoyan, Lars von Trier, Amos Gitai, Hou Hsiao Hsien or Jim Jarmusch have allbeen here in Competition before, and they will be here again with films thatconfirm their importance in contemporary creation. However, although Lars vonTrier was here in 2003, Wim Wenders has not featured in Competition since 1998.Each case is unique and there are no 'rights of entry' because of thesingular journeys they each tread: several of them have made other films sincetheir last appearance at Cannes. If they have been chosen it means that theirfilms won us over by their own merits and for what they have to say aboutcinematographic creation today.
- But doesn't this return in strength mean that cinema is not evolving''
No, that is not a pertinent argument. We are talking about art, about cinema,not sport. Great filmmakers make great works; which is always good to hear.However, as this trend began to emerge, my eye was drawn further-a-field. Tosit alongside these great craftsmen I needed to find other landscapes, facesand languages. I found them, and they are present for the first time inCompetition: Wang Xiaoshuai and Johnny To from China, Marco Tullio Giordanafrom Italy, Hiner Saleem from Iraq, Carlos Reygadas from Mexico and, from theUnited States, Roberto Rodriguez and Tommy Lee Jones (a Hollywood veteran' anda young filmmaker too). The desire to provide a worldwide panorama of thediversity in film creation is also illustrated by Un Certain Regard, whichcontinues its policy of artistic and geographical exploration by inviting youngfilmmakers to come to Cannes for the first time.
- There seems to be a strong Asian and Latin-American presence.
In Competition, yes, but also throughout the Selection, Asian cinema confirmsits strength: China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and even Sri Lanka. Asia will also bepart of the jury. The continent is very active and illustrates its creativityin both genre cinema and cinema d'auteur. It is no longer suitable totalk about their cinema in terms of emergence but in terms of confirmation, itis a strong trend that has a great public following.
In geographical terms we also have to acknowledge the emergence of LatinAmerica: Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Very interesting things are happeningthere which come to counterbalance the presence of Asia.
- What about Europe'
Europe has not been left out and there are great surprises from the leastexpected countries: Iceland, Romania and Hungary. Furthermore, Austria andGermany, which have two films in Un Certain Regard, confirm the birth not onlyof a new generation of filmmakers, but also of authors, actors and producers.
- You are presenting 20 films in competition, compared to 19 in 2004.
This is due to the opening film being in the competition. We wanted thecompetition to begin right from the start.
- What are the main a characteristics of the films presented'
This year is under the sign of cinema d'auteur, whereas in 2004 we wereunder the sign of eclecticism. The competition will thus present very personaland unclassifiable works: Sin City by Roberto Rodriguez who, with the helpof Frank Miller and with Quentin Tarantino as guest-director has made a'human cartoon'; Batalla En El Cielo from the Mexican CarlosReygadas, whose radical aesthetics are only rivalled by the darkness of hissubject; Free Zone by Amos Gitai, who carries his camera into the heartof burning, passionate territories; Election by Johnny To, who goesbeyond the codes of the genre with this very 'auteur' version of atraditional Hong Kong detective film.
There is also a return to classicism in the competition: WhereThe Truth Lies by Atom Egoyan is a psychological thriller (in cinemascopeand in colour!), Don't Come Knocking by Wim Wenders, who continues hisjourney through America and its cinema, History of Violence by DavidCronenberg, which adds its contribution to the classic storylines of'vengeance' films as well as his personal obsessions; Quand Tu EsNe by Marco Tullio Giordana represents Italy in competition with a socialpiece of work that closely intertwines content and form. Among the newcomers,there is The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada by Tommy Lee Jones who,for his first film, and with the help of screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (AmoresPerros, 21 Grams), proposes a contemporary western between the USA andMexico, or Shanghai Dreams by Wang Xiaoshuai who visits the '70's inChina.
Finally, we have filmmakers who continue their aesthetic exploration and try toextend narrative and directional forms: Lars von Trier who, with Manderlay,explicitly places himself in direct continuation of Dogville, which waspresented in 2003; Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne who, with L'Enfant,propose a very political vision of Belgian (and European) society; Hou HsiaoHsien, whose film - The Best of Our Times - becomes a journey into hisown filmography; Gus Van Sant returns after Elephant with a film that iseven further removed from Hollywood and its narrative codes.
- In terms of content, are there any common themes'
That's something we can all think about at the end of the Festival. There arecommon themes that run through all the films, in some more explicitly than inothers. For example, the theme of paternity can be seen in the work offilmmakers as different as Jim Jarmusch (looking for paternity), Wim Wenders(reflecting on paternity), the Dardenne brothers (coming to terms withpaternity) and Marco Tullio Giordana (finding paternity).
Another theme explores violence in the world: the film by David Cronenberg notonly has an emblematic title on the subject (History of Violence); itunderlines that the violence of society will be, if we are not careful, that ofthe children who have grown up with it.
Do not make the mistake, however, of thinking that the films seem particularlydark or can be reduced to generalisations.
- How does Un Certain Regard look'
The Festival intends to provide Un Certain Regard with maximum visibility morethan ever before. Having chosen a filmmaker like Alexander Payne to preside theJury is proof of this. We said earlier that the competition is represented byrenowned directors, so Un Certain Regard is there precisely to open the doorsof the Festival to young filmmakers. It will present twenty films (nine ofwhich are first films) from 15 different countries, including notably SriLanka, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Iran, Iceland and Spain.
- Some figures'
The figures confirm the strong direction taken over the last few years: greatergeographical scope with the presence of 15 countries, and renewal with 9 firstfilms.
- What else'
As for the rest of the selection, the presence of special screenings in SalleBuñuel should be noted: there you will find Rithy Panh from Cambodia, AviMograbi from Israel, Seijun Suzuki from Japan and Fatih Akin from Germany whopresents a documentary about popular Turkish music that will also be screenedat the Cinema de la Plage.
We should not forget two prestigious Hors Competition films: the return ofWoody Allen with Match Point, a film entirely shot in London, and theworld première screening of the last episode of George Lucas' Star Wars,in the presence of George Lucas, celebrating in Cannes the last chapter in oneof the most mythical adventures in film history.
Finally, three late shows are proposed for enthusiasts: a detective comedy, KissKiss Bang Bang by Shane Black: a film noir from Korea, Bittersweet Lifeby Kim Jee-woon and an evening dedicated to cinema-bis with MidnightMovies by Stuart Samuels, screened on' Friday 13th.
- Who can we expect to see on the Croisette this year'
Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Michael Pitt, Asia Argento, Robert Downey Jr,Val Kilmer, Ewan McGregor, Samuel Jackson, Nathalie Portman, Danny Glover,Viggo Mortensen, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard,Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Shu Qi, Tommy Lee Jones, Zhang Ziyi, Carole Bouquet,Gael Garcia Bernal, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Tim Roth, Eva Marie Saint, SarahPolley, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Benicio del Toro, MickeyRourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Edward Norton.